The Life Sciences Institute, part of a project to update the
University’s infrastructure to meet the demands of the post-genomic
era of science, is scheduled to open Sept. 15.
Currently there are three additional buildings under
construction, covering a large block where Washtenaw Avenue meets
Huron Parkway. Also scheduled to be completed this year is the
Commons Building, which is slated to open in November. In September
2004 the Life Sciences parking structure is set to be finished, and
the Undergraduate Sciences Building is scheduled to be completed in
Karl Bates, LSI’s director of communications, said that the
construction of LSI puts the University amongst the leading
institutions in the life sciences.
Construction began in late 2000, with a budget of $100 million.
An additional $100 million was allocated for a long-term research
fund, and a $30 million startup fund was instituted in order to
hire new staff and buy materials. The project was developed by the
Life Sciences Commission, instituted by former University President
Lee Bollinger in May of 1998.
LSI Managing Director Liz Barry said LSI will function as a
cross-disciplinary hub, bringing together such fields as biology,
chemistry, computer science, mathematics and psychology.
James Alford, LSI director of operations, said the institute
will intellectually and geographically pull the sciences
Now that the human genome has been completely sequenced, the
next step is to determine how it functions within cells. Some
questions that the Life Sciences Institute seeks to answer are how
genes and their encoded proteins make life possible, how they
interact with the environment and how they produce traits, such as
susceptibility to disease, according to LSI’s website.
With long halls uninterrupted by doors, large rooms and
integrated offices, the building itself is designed to encourage
interaction and collaboration, said Bates.
The new building will be comparable to Harvard University’s
Center for Genomic Research and The California Institute of
Technology’s Broad Center.
LSI will be host to not only faculty and researchers but also
graduate and undergraduate students assisting with research and
participating in labs for various classes.